ASTK15735U  COURSE: Health Policy in a comparative perspective

Volume 2017/2018

Master students: 7.5 ECTS

Bachelor students: 10 ECTS


Health policy is a core component of western welfare states. It is also a very complex and contested policy field where hierarchical, market, clan and network based governance forms meet and sometimes conflict. A diverse range of national and international actors influence health policymaking. This seminar will provide an introduction to comparative health policy analysis as a method for analyzing and comparing health systems. Nordic health systems are used as case examples, but comparisons are made to other types of health systems in Europe. Theories from comparative health policy, public administration and health economics are presented as frameworks for analyzing differences and similarities.


Lecture topics include:

  1. Introduction to health policy: Systems and system design in a comparative light
  2. Markets, market failure, regulation and governance failure in health care
  3. The political and societal context of health care
  4. Funding, provision and governance
  5. Governance issues: Centralization/decentralization: Nordic reforms
  6. Governance issues: Public/private
  7. Governance issues: Professions/management
  8. Governance issues: Coordination, networks and patient centered care
  9. Prioritization and Health Technology Assessment: tools and politics in pharma regulation
  10. Performance measurement and accountability
  11. Equity in health: Why should we care
  12. Implementation of health policy: challenges and issues
  13. The future of health care: Aging societies and increasing expenditures
  14. The future of health care: Digitalization, telemedicine, personalized medicine, robots, exo-skeletons, artificial intelligence and all the rest
Learning Outcome

Knowledge: Students will obtain knowledge about health systems and health policy in a comparative perspective. Students will be able to account for specific governance issues in contemporary health policy and potential policy responses, using examples from Nordic and European health systems. Student will be able to account for theoretical perspectives on contemporary health policy.

Skills: Students will be able to analyze specific health policy issues and evaluate the empirical, concrete and complex challenges within the field of health policy. Furthermore, they will understand the different political and managerial challenges that arise from different governance approaches.

Competences: Students will be able to assess and understand the political and societal context of health policy and specific governance issues in health policy using appropriate theoretical perspectives from comparative health systems analysis, public administration and health economics. 

Preliminary reading list:

Books: (selected chapters - see details below and in syllabus)

Cam Donaldson, Karen Gerard, Stephen Jan, Craig Mitton, Virginia Wiseman (2004). Economics of Health Care Financing. The Visible Hand

Ewan Ferlie, Kathleen Montgomery, and Anne Reff Pedersen  (eds) (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Health Management.

Glied and Smith (2013). The Oxford Handbook of health economics. –

Blank, Robert and Burau, V. (2014). Comparative Health Policy. Fourth ed.

Evans, Robert, Barer, Moris and Teodore Marmor (eds) (1994). Why are some people healthy and others not? The determinants of health of populations. Aldine de Gruyter.

Papanicolas and Smith (eds) (2013) Health system performance comparison. An agenda for policy information and research pp31-112 (free download from: www: European Observatory on Health Systems)



Doolin (2016) Implementing E-Health. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Management pp352-374

Porter, Michael E. & Thomas H. Lee (2013): The strategy that will fix health care. Harvard Business Review, the October Issue, available: https:/​/​​2013/​10/​the-strategy-that-will-fix-health-care#.  AND Porter, Michael E. Porter and Thomas H. Lee (2015): Why Strategy Matters Now. The New England Journal of  Medicine, 372 (18):1681-1684.

Evans and Stoddart (1992).  Producing health consuming health care. - In Evans et al (eds). Why are some people healthy and others not? Pp27-64

Sheaff and Schofield (2015): Inter-organizational networks, care networks and integrated care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Care Management. Pp434-459

West and Markiewicz. Effective Team Working in Health Care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Care Management. Pp231-254

Bryson, J.M and Crosby, B. (2006). The design and implementation of cross-sector collaborations: Propositions from the literature. Public Administration Review. December 2006. Special Issue.

Cutler et al (2013): Socioeconomic status and health: Dimensions and Mechanisms. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics.  Pp124-163

Sheiner (2013): Intergenerational aspects of health care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 870-889

Chernew and May (2013) Health care cost growth. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 308-325

Rathert et al (2014). Re-Humanizing Health Care. - Facilitating "caring" for Patient centered care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Care Management. Pp141-163

Lavallee et al (2016). Incorporating patient-reported outcomes into health care to engage patients and enhance care. Health Affairs 35:4 pp 575-582

Tuohy  and Glied (2013). The Political Economy of Health Care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 58-77

Maynard, A. Health Care Rationing: Doing it Better in Public and Private Health Care Systems. JHPPL, 38(6), 2013.

Chernichovsky, D. Pluralism, choice, and the state in the emerging paradigm in health systems. The Milbank Quarterly. (80)1, 2002.

Christianson and Conrad (2013). Provider payment and incentives. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 624-648

Osborn, R. et al. International survey of older adults finds shortcomings in access, coordination, and patient-centered care, Health Affairs (33)12 2014.

Propper and Leckie (2013). Increasing competition between providers in health care markets: the Economic evidence. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 671-687

McGuire (2013). Physician Agency and Payment for Primary Care. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 602-623

Blomqvist (2013) Public-sector health care financing. In The Oxford handbook of health economics. Pp 257-284

Porter, Michael E. & Elisabeth Olmsted Teisberg (2006): Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-based Competition on Results. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass. (Supplementary)

Porter, Michael E.  (2008): Value-Based Health Care Delivery. Annals of Surgery, 248 (4): 503-509.

Porter, Michael E.  What Is Value in Health Care? (2010): The New England Journal of Medicine, 363 (29): 2477-2481.

Burgess and Street (2013). Measuring organizational performance. In The Oxford Handbook of Health Eonomics. Pp 688-706.

Triplett (2013). Health system productivity.  In The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics. Pp 707-732

Jenny Lewis (2016). The paradox of performance measurement. Handbook of Health Care Management. Pp 375-392

Bevan, G. and Christopher Hood (2006). What ’ S Measured Is What Matters: Targets And Gaming In The English Public Health Care System. Public Administration Vol. 84, No. 3, 2006 (517–538)


Supplementary: Kings Fund: Providing integrated care for older people with complex needs Lessons from seven international case studies The integrative care initiative http:/​/​​topics/​integrated-care

SUPPLEMENTARY: "Kings Fund: What if? Series of essays:

Ara Darzi and Oliver Keown - What if every patient were to have their genome mapped?

Richard Smith - What if everyone over 55 was offered a pill to prevent heart attacks and strokes?"

Kings Fund: Matthew Honeyman - What if people controlled their own health data? Kings Fund: What if antibiotics no longer worked? http:/​/​​publications/​nhs-if

Mesko, Bertalan (2014). The Guide to the Future of Medicine. Technology and the Human Touch. (supplementary)

BA in social science or public health
Lectures and group work w/student presentations
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28